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Developer seeks 21 years to finish Safety Harbor project

SAFETY HARBOR — It's unparalleled.

Olympia Development is asking the city to change its site plan and give the company 21 years to complete a three-phase project called Harbour Pointe Village, a luxury residential community planned for 2.37 acres between Main and Iron Age streets.

"It's unprecedented for the city to consider such a long-range plan,'' said Matt McLachlan, the city's community development director. "The City Commission will have to make the decision.''

Harbour Pointe Village is a $10-million to $12-million project.

The city's planning and zoning board will discuss the request at a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall and then make a recommendation to commissioners.

The issue will likely come before the commission next month.

Prior to March 2008 in Safety Harbor, a developer could pull a building permit and start construction within one year with no limits on completion. For example, one-phase structures could be started and then completed in a 1,000 years.

Even with no limits, developers were never known to take extended periods of time to build their projects.

But expressing concern over limitless completion dates, the planning and zoning board recommended time restrictions on single-phase projects.

Projects now need to be under continuous construction from the date the building permit is first issued with no lapse of construction of more than one year.

Olympia has proposed building its first residential structure in the village within five years. It's unclear which building is being considered.

The company is making the request because adverse housing market conditions that have arisen since the project was initially approved make it unlikely the development will be built in a continuous fashion, Olympia officials have told the city.

Olympia chief executive officer Edward Entreken could not be reached for comment Friday.

Olympia's request comes with revisions to its major amendments and they "are positive,'' McLachlan said.

The seven-story condo has been redesigned, going from two buildings to one and constructed on a smaller footprint.

On the property south of Second Street, the eight planned townhomes have been reconfigured to two four-unit buildings.

On the land north of Second Street, Olympia plans 11 townhouses instead of the 15 it originally submitted.

Also, "the city is pleased the developer made an effort to preserve the grand tree on the site,'' McLachlan said, referring to a live oak tree with a 71-inch trunk diameter that is protected by the city's grand tree ordinance.

But Mayor Andy Steingold isn't satisfied, and not just because he wants more trees saved or replanted.

"Would I be in favor of stringing along the development over 21 years? Absolutely not,'' he said. "Too many things can happen. There are just too many variables and circumstances that can change.''

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Developer seeks 21 years to finish Safety Harbor project 09/06/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 8:26am]
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